Monday, November 21, 2016

Kudrin’s 13 Points about What Russia Must Do to Overcome Its Backwardness

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 21 – At the conclusion of the All-Russian Civic Forum, Aleksey Kudrin, the head of the Civic Initiatives Committee, outlined his ideas about what Russia needs to do over the next 20 years to avoid disaster and return to modernization and democracy.  Znak’s Dmitry Kolesev has organized them as 13 theses.

            While one may be tempted to recall Clemenceau’s observation about Woodrow Wilson’s 14 points – the French leader pointed out that “the Good Lord had only ten” – Kudrin’s ideas do say a great deal about what Russia will have to do in order to avoid disaster (

            His “theses” are as follows:

1.      During the next 20 years, Kudrin says, only those societies “which are able to mobilize the possibilities of human individuality and human capabilities” will succeed. We are moving toward ‘a knowledge economy,’” but while many Russians use these terms, little has been done to put them into practice.

2.      “In developed countries, six to nine percent of the population works in creative industries; [in Russia], about half of one percent. Our task is to create creative possibilities and space for the growth of this number.”

3.      Technological advances mean that advances are the product of “a dialogue of machines and society.” That will only increase, and again Russian lags behind.

4.      “Soon technology will replace many of the functions of government. The technology of block chains can almost completely replace the state bureaucracy. Society will be able on its own to solve various issues as well as make contracts and agreements.”

5.      If Russian wants to be competitive, it must be a full participant in “the new technical revolution.” That in turn requires “more freedom for creative people, including in terms of cultural and social preferences.” In short, “in order to be respected and strong (even in a military sense), we must be free and creative.”

6.      “From television screens, we hear unfounded as a rule anti-Western rhetoric.  People who talk this way do not understand at all how the contemporary world is organized. There have already evolved powerful horizontal ties among peoples, organizations and businessmen. Our industry, including its military component, depends from 40 to 50 percent on imported technology.” 

7.      “In our country, now there are essentially fewer geopolitical or military risks than the risk of technological or social backwardness. Our children’s mortality is four times higher than in neighboring Finland. That is what we must address in order to be successful.” 

8.      Russian society is now divided among groups which do not trust one another.  We must connect these groups and build bridges between them.”

9.      “We must change the status of the entrepreneur” so that such people will be “heroes” and “respected in society.”  That will require a change in attitudes inculcated for decades. “But without this change reality won’t change either.”

10.  “Our society is aging. The state will not be able to take on itself all the burden for its support.”

11.  Russia is now “spending more on preparations for the world cup than for the equipping of university laboratories. And this is a catastrophe … “Let us make our universities the best in the world.”

12.  “The developed world is moving toward a basic guaranteed income. Many countries are discussing this possibilities.” But in Russia, things are moving “in the opposite direction.” The tax on those who are not employed is “an anti-human measure going against a worldwide trend.”

13.  The USSR failed not because of a weak army or a weak KGB. It collapsed because of an ineffective economy. And today the risks which led to the collapse of the USSR exist in Russia too.  I hope this will not happen,” Kudrin says. But to ensure that, “we must overcome our technological backwardness. That alone will allow us to preserve the country.”

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